episode 2 landed on HBO Max on , and Ellie, Tess and Joel saw the first steps of their dark journey across the US. Fans of we will definitely be happy with how close it is to the source material.
There were a few big departures from the game, though, so let’s dive into those.
Origin of Cordyceps
Since the game limits its focus to Joel and Ellie’s point of view, references to the origins of the pandemic are limited to notes and old newspapers scattered around the environment.
In contrast, the opening flashback of episode 2 shows how the Cordyceps fungus devastated the world in 2003. After being bitten by an unknown person, a woman working in a flour and grain factory in Jakarta, Indonesia her co-workers before she was released. .
Many of these people were executed to stop the problem from growing, but it was too late. After consulting the security forces and discovering that the dead woman’s body has been colonized by the fungus, mycology expert Ibu Ratna (Christine Hakim) offers some dire advice: Bomb the city to stop it from spread more.
Apparently assuming this was the end, Ratna asks to be taken home so she can spend whatever time she has left with her family. Series writer Craig Mazin told CNET that thishim.
“That’s scary to me,” he said. “He founds everything, and the more we can make the peripheral feel real, the center will feel more real.”
So yeah, cheerful stuff. In his delve into the science behind the show’s fungal pandemic, CNET’s Jackson Ryan noted that we rely heavily on rice, wheat and maize as food sources. If any of these were infected with a fungal pathogen, it could be disastrous.
In the game, Cordyceps spreads through spores – Mazin told ComicBook.com that they changed it for the show so that characters wouldn’t be wearing gas masks all the time.
His dark fate
Mysterious teenager Ellie () are immune to the fungal brain infection that has reduced much of the population to savage cannibals, so smuggling partners Tess and Joel (Anna Torv and ) were tasked with delivering her to the rebel group known as the Fireflies. They hope to replicate Ellie’s resistance and restore the world.
The 2023 story of the episode closely follows the game, right down to Tess hiding that she was bitten by one of the infected in the Bostonian Museum. They arrive at the Capitol Building and find the bodies of the Fireflies they were meant to take Ellie to.
Tess reveals her wound, assumes she is doomed and demands that a reluctant Joel take Ellie to their friends Bill and Frank, so they can help get Ellie to the Fireflies.
“You get her there. You keep her alive. And you set everything right,” she says. “All the shit we did. Please say yes, Joel, please.”
In the game, soldiers of the authoritarian remnants of the US military arrive at the building and Tess stays behind to delay their enemies. She is quickly unmasked, but her sacrifice allows Joel and Ellie to escape.
However, on the show, an infected mob descends on the Capitol Building, and Tess stays behind to cover Joel and Ellie’s escape. She dumps gas and grenades all over the floor.
“Joel, only who can you save,” she says, encouraging him to pull Ellie who is struggling to safety.
As the infection rushes in, Tess struggles to light the lighter and blow them all up. A particularly mutated infection notices her and tendrils extend from her mouth into her mouth — I didn’t want to ignite a flame anymore.
Much to our relief, she manages to light the fire and closes her eyes before the explosion kills her and a drop of infection. Ellie and Joel witness the explosion from outside, and a quietly devastated Joel walks out.
We don’t know why the show’s creators chose to use infected for this moment instead of soldiers, but it’s likely that they wanted to reinforce the danger of the Cordyceps fungus just as it was revealed that Ellie could be the source of healing.
The grim story continues on HBO Max.
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